Julie Dempster: Not in the best interest
February 22, 2010
To the editor:
Regarding the Moffat County School District's proposed calendar: What I don't think is in the best interest of the kids is the number of days off during the school year or the two-hour early release every other week.
We all know what TGIF means, and we've all felt the same the last day (sometimes two) before the weekend: a subtle slack in the "work attitude."
Now, when our kids have a three- or four-day weekend, do you think that affects their "work attitude" as well?
As I look at the proposed calendar, I see that "Fall Break" now is a five-day weekend for the kids. "Fall Break" always has disturbed me, as the kids just get a head of steam starting up in September and October's bogus break kicks in.
Thanksgiving should be our "Fall Break" and those who the October days were intended for will pull their kids out of school to go hunting whenever they choose, because that's what they do now, anyway.
President's Day on the proposed calendar is different.
This month, our elementary children just had a four-day weekend followed by a three-day weekend, and next year it looks to be combined into one five-day weekend for the little ones, and a four-day-er for the older children.
I've never asked why the elementary teachers need to have extra work days beyond the middle and high school teachers, but I do know that this "older kids go to school, elementary doesn't" day is an annoyance that we've learned to deal with.
So, per next year's proposal, two of the three weekdays on President's Day weekend are teacher workdays, while it appears that Friday "off for everyone" is the comp day that balances out hours worked for parent/teacher conferences.
I understand from attending PAC and SDAC that teacher collaboration time is intended for teachers to discuss among their peers what is working in their classrooms throughout the district, not just within their buildings. The goal being a consistency in approaches and teaching what is necessary for the kids to succeed as they are handed from one teacher to the next. I am in favor of that goal, as I sometimes think we make "one step forward, two steps back" when my kids move up a grade.
But I think that letting the kids out of school two hours early every other week takes even more away from their budding work ethic.
Will they take the day seriously when they're leaving after their "after lunch" class?
If there is no other choice than to let them out two hours early at least let the kids' TGIF attitude prevail and use Friday afternoons to collaborate.
But please consider letting the kids out only one hour early every week. It is much better for the kids to know what to expect every week on a consistent basis. Parents can better prepare their work schedules, and I would think that the teachers could better track their progress collaborating weekly.